12/27/2010

Historical Transition: God Alone is Man's Only Hope (Isaiah 36-39)

Isa 36-39 (paralleled in 2 Ki 18:13-20:19) is the historical narrative bridge between the mostly poetic Isa 1-35 and Isa 40-66. Isa 36,37 are the historical consummation of Isa 1-35--Jerusalem's deliverance from Assyria (proving through Hezekiah that faith in God is met with his blessing)--and Isa 38,39 provide the context and the historical basis for Isa 40-66--a preview of the Babylonian captivity due to Hezekiah's folly and vanity. Against the backdrop of divine faithfulness (Isa 36,37) and human inconstancy (Isa 38,39), God stands forth as the only hope of his people.

Practical Trust in God Vindicated (Isa 36:1-37:38)

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, surrounded Jerusalem in 701 BC, in the 14th year of King Hezekiah (Isa 36:1), and asked for his surrender, or face a prolonged siege (Isa 36:2-22). Unlike his faithless father Ahaz (Isa 7), Hezekiah responds to crisis by turning to God (Isa 37:1), and seeking a word from God through Isaiah (Isa 37:2), who promised deliverance by God's own foreordained purpose (Isa 37:30-32,33-37). Hezekiah prayed Isaiah's life message that the Lord alone saves (Isa 37:20). He went to the house of the Lord and was saved; Sennacherib went to the house of his god Nisroch and was assassinated by his own son (Isa 37:38).

Human Inconstancy Sent into Exile (Isa 38:1-39:8)
Though Hezekiah was at his best in Isa 37 and he experienced God's answer to his personal prayer in Isa 38, he is exposed as self-centered, vain and short-sighted, when he showed off all of his wealth and armory to foreign emissaries from Babylon (Isa 39:1-4). Though he stood firm in faith against Assyrian intimidation, he melted before Babylonian flattery. Thus, he doomed his people and his children to Babylonian exile (Isa 39:5-7), while seeming to care only for himself (Isa 39:8). God alone is the only hope of his people.

Truism: Though Hezekiah was a "good" king, only God is our King and ultimate hope.

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